Classic cars are a part of American history. From as early as 1903 to the 1970s and beyond, cars produced by our oldest domestic manufacturers (Ford, General Motors, Dodge) represent where we’ve been as an automotive industry and, in many ways, where we are today.
You don’t necessarily have to go to a classic car show or even a local meetup to appreciate what makes these cars so unique. With Instagram, you can see everything from classic American muscle to the original sports roadsters without ever leaving your home.
What classic automotive beauties are most appreciated on the social media platform? We examined 198,000 Instagram posts using the hashtags #ClassicCar and #CarShow to find out.
Here’s what we discovered.
Popular #ClassicCar Models on Instagram
Some cars just have that special something. It makes you walk past them a little slower so you can take in all the little details – from custom paint jobs to classically restored side mirrors and hardware. You don’t even have to be a collector to appreciate one when you see it.
The same can be said about classic cars on Instagram. There’s just something about them. In fact, the Ford Mustang earned the top spot for #ClassicCar mentions we studied in the subcategory of over 65,000 Instagram posts. While today’s model is still a common sight on the road, nothing beats the classic, American vibes of the mid- to late-’60s Mustang, which was mentioned in 25 percent of the posts we looked at.
The classic Chevy Camaro and Pontiac GTO were also featured in 11 percent of Instagram posts using the hashtag #ClassicCar, making these classic American muscle cars account for nearly half the total mentions among models mentioned at least 100 times.
When it came to cars earning the most likes, the Pontiac Grand Prix had 545 likes on average, making it our most liked model we came across. The Charger beat out both the Camaro and Mustang for second place with 381 likes, and the other American classics followed.
The Golden Age of #ClassicCar(s) and #CarShow(s)
Cars built in 1950 were posted most often with the hashtags #ClassicCar and #CarShow on Instagram. While the 1950s predate many American muscle cars and the mainstream popularity of sports cars that define the classic automotive industry today, it still produced some popular iconic rides. The popularity of cars made in the early ’50s spiked after the Chevy Corvette (1953) was introduced, and the decade ended with one of the most iconic cars of the era, the 1957 Chevy Bel Air. Introduced in 1950, the Bel Air’s second generation debuted in 1955 and earned a spot as one of the most classic American cars of all time. This iconic ’50s car set the tone for car design for decades to come.
After that, #ClassicCar and #CarShow mentions spike again for cars made in 1966 and 1970. When the Dodge Charger and the Ford Mustang were introduced in the ’60s, the transition from sports cars to American muscle was well underway. After 1970, classic car mentions on Instagram generally decline, particularly after the ’80s.
Popular Decades for #ClassicCar(s)
Certain makes and models of classic cars are defined by their generation. In fact, some decades have produced models that continue to be well-loved and cherished by enthusiasts and collectors alike.
Out of 198,000 #ClassicCar and #CarShow Instagram posts, the most liked 1950s model is the Chevy Impala.
Further, the Dodge Charger takes the cake for the 1960s. Introduced as a show car in 1964, the Dodge Charger wasn’t an immediate smash hit, but its second generation took the Charger out of the showroom, onto the racetrack, and on to critical acclaim. In 1979, the famous orange 01 Charger made its appearance in “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
The Chevrolet Chevelle, introduced in 1963, picked up the most #ClassicCar and #CarShow likes for the 1970s. Lauded as “the ultimate muscle car” but with comfort and convenience, the Chevelle enjoyed a limited production of some of its most famous models, helping to ensure it remains a classic car that is both rare and loved.
Stand Out #CarShow States
Some states just have it going on with their #CarShow Instagram posts.
It turns out, Nevada has the highest percentage of #CarShow posts on Instagram (more than 133,000). With famous car shows like the SEMA Show, Super Run, and Klassic Kruisers, it’s no surprise posts from Nevada outrank any other state in the country.
California, Florida, Georgia, and Connecticut also had a high percentage of #CarShow Instagram photos. In Florida, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance ranks as one of the most prestigious classic car shows in America, and the Atlanta International Auto Show brings classic cars and the world’s major automotive manufacturers together for one of the biggest car show celebrations in the U.S.
#ClassicCar and #CarShow Makes That Stand Out
When we looked at Instagram posts tagged with a car and color, Chevrolet was in 73 percent of posts that also mentioned orange and were tagged with #ClassicCar and #CarShow, while Chevrolet was also in 63 percent of posts that mentioned gold and 52 percent of posts that mentioned green.
Cars in black, white, blue, and yellow were additionally more likely to be mentioned with Ford than any other brand.
Love The Classics
From #CarShows in Reno, Nevada, to Jacksonville, Florida, #ClassicCars – like the Ford Mustang, Dodge Charger, and Chevy Camaro – are a part of car history and car culture in America. Certain makes and models of cars (like those produced in the 1950s) are more popular online, and there’s no shortage of classic car options for collectors and admirers alike.
We scraped Instagram for #CarShow and #ClassicCar. Then we analyzed the filters used, average number of likes, mentions of specific cars and models, as well as mentions of car years and colors. Model and make mentions had to be explicitly stated. Model mentions were not converted into their respective brands. Example: Mustang was not automatically considered a Ford mention unless the post said Ford Mustang. All assets are based on results with at least 100 mentions. Population estimates are based on 2015 population data from the U.S. Census.
Share the Classics
Know a fellow road warrior who may find this article interesting? This post is available for noncommercial sharing only. Make sure to link back to AutoNation.com so readers can see more about the full study.